Mission Aviation Fellowship

The return of the fully-funded pilot training programme

Aer Lingus and British Airways have become the first two European airlines to offer fully-funded pilot training programmes in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, signalling an upturn in low hours pilot recruitment. While BA has yet to confirm which schools it will be partnering with to deliver the training, Aer Lingus has confirmed that it has selected Spanish Approved Training Organisation (ATO) FTE Jerez as their training provider.

The BA training programme has been given the name British Airways Speedbird Pilot Academy in a nod to the flag carrier’s callsign and will train up to 60 new pilots per year, with all training costs funded by BA. Applications for the new programme will open next month, with the first batch of cadets starting their training in the new year.

Costing upwards of £100k, BA says that the creation of the Speedbird Pilot Academy will see the cost barrier of training to become an airline pilot removed, making the profession much more accessible. In addition to removing the cost barrier, BA says that it remains committed to further increasing diversity in the aviation industry and is determined to increase awareness, visibility, and applications to this new cadet programme to people from all backgrounds – not just those who can afford the initial training costs. The airline works closely with

Fantasy Wings, the leading UK organisation for diversity in aviation, to promote careers to young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, and young women in the aviation industry.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “The Speedbird Pilot Academy will make the ambition of becoming a British Airways pilot a reality for people who’d previously written the option off because of the cost barrier. “Our aim is to attract the very best talent out there for our future generation of pilots. Whether someone is just leaving school or embarking on a second career they never thought possible, we’re levelling the playing field by removing the initial training cost barrier to make a flying career more accessible to a wider range of people and giving everyone an equal chance.

“We fly to more than 200 destinations around the world on a range of aircraft types, providing pilots with an abundance of opportunities and making a career as a British Airways pilot extremely rewarding. This first-in-a-generation initiative will allow anyone to make it a reality.”

Hannah Vaughan, British Airways senior first officer and former cadet said: “This is a great career for anyone. You will naturally need a love for flying and travel, but being a British Airways pilot offers so much more.

“From working with an incredibly dedicated team and meeting customers from around the world to benefitting from world-class training facilities. I would absolutely recommend it as a career path.

Entry requirements for the programme include:

• 6 GCSE’s (or equivalent), Grade A-C or 5-9 (including English, Maths and one of the Sciences)
• To be a minimum height of 5ft 2in
• To be aged between 18 and 55
• To pass a UK CAA Class 1 Medical

The Speedbird Pilot Academy is just one part of the airline’s wider pilot recruitment plans. As announced in the last edition, BA has also launched a ‘Whitetail Recruitment Programme’ in partnership with five approved training organisations (ATOs) – CAE, FTEJerez, Leading Edge Aviation, L3Harris and Skyborne.

The programme was announced at a Pilot Careers Live event held at Manchester Airport in July and is part of a recruitment drive to place 500 new pilots with the British flag carrier over the next two years.

‘Whitetail’ is the term used to describe a pilot training programme with no airline affiliation, with cadets self-sponsoring their training and then applying to airlines for jobs once qualified. Under BA’s new scheme, cadets enrolled on whitetail training programmes with any of the five ATOs are now eligible to join the Whitetail Recruitment Programme, subject to meeting certain eligibility criteria. Those that meet the requirements will then be ‘tagged’ by BA as suitable for future employment with the airline.

The scheme is open to cadets enrolled on flight training programmes at any of the five ATOs and BA confirms that it will accept cadets pursuing either modular or integrated training pathways.

In order to be eligible to apply, applicants will need to have completed their Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) theory exams, achieving an average pass mark of at least 85% with no more than three retakes. Applicants are also only allowed to have re-enrolled on a course once and must achieve a first series pass in their CPL and IR flight tests. APS MCC certification must also be acquired if not already included in their ATPL training programme, as well as Upset Prevention Recovery Training (UPRT). Widening the recruitment pool further, BA has also relaunched its Newly Qualified Pilot Pathway (NQPP). This pathway is for graduated pilots who have completed their training via a modular or integrated course at any ATO, not just one of the five selected for the Whitetail programme.

The eligibility criteria for the NQPP includes:

• 85% ground school average with no more than three resits
• First-series CPL & IR pass (Series 1, Attempt 1 or Series 1, Attempt 2)
• APS MCC
• Attended no more than 3 training providers for the following phases of training: Ground School, CPL/IR and APS MCC
• To hold a UK CAA Class 1 medical and meet British Airways medical criteria
• English Language Proficiency of ICAO Level 6
• A valid passport (with minimum of 12 months before expiry date)  allowing unrestricted worldwide travel

Additionally, for those transitioning from the military, BA is working on a managed pathway agreement with the MoD due to launch next year, requiring pilots to have amassed at least 1,500hrs and to be within two years of their pension point. Over in Dublin, Aer Lingus is the second European airline to confirm a fully-funded cadetship for new pilots. Being delivered by FTE-Jerez, Aer Lingus has opted for a Multi-

Crew Pilot Licence (MPL) training programme that will last around 14 months, before candidates travel to Dublin to undergo their type rating training on an Airbus A320.

Candidates will undergo their type rating training on an Airbus A320.

Author: FTN Editor

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